Follower growth on social media is often called out and dismissed for being a vanity metric, but in reality, things are a bit more complicated than that.
Yes, quality will always trump quantity. A small, loyal, engaged audience is better than a huge, passive one. But a large following will still bring a lot of benefits.
Want to know how to calculate your social media followers growth and understand the importance of this metric in shaping your social media strategy? Then keep on reading to find out.
Tracking your social media audience growth
1. Learning how to calculate follower growth
The way to go about calculating follower growth is quite easy. This metric represents the total number of new followers you gained on a specific social media channel over a specific time period.
So, to calculate it, you should subtract the number of followers you have at the end of your chosen timeframe from the number of followers you had at the start.
Simple as that.
The timeframe you choose for this measurement is usually very important. That’s why most brands have the habit of checking their follower growth after running a social media campaign.
Tracking the changes in their social fanbase (on individual channels or at a brand level) is one way to measure the effectiveness of a social media marketing campaign. So keeping an eye on your follower growth rate is also key.
Wondering what is a good follower growth rate?
Well, if you’re seeing a 6 to 8% (or more) increase in your follower count consistently, month after month, that means you’re doing something right and that your community is growing at a reasonable pace.
If, on the other hand, if your audience growth rate is only 5% or less, that usually means there’s room for improvement.
2. Why is it crucial to analyze follower growth?
Basic as it may seem, follower growth is a key social media metric to monitor when you’re building an online community around a brand or business. That’s because it gives you an idea of how many people resonate with your brand at any point in time.
After all, the act of following a social media account (be it business or personal) is completely voluntary.
Besides tracking the growth of your online community, analyzing this metric gives you another very important set of insights. By looking at follower growth charts, inside native apps or via analytics tools, you will inevitably notice one or several spikes.
Depending on the timeframe of your choice, as well as the brand’s activity on social during that time, these charts can either look very “wavy”, boasting several spikes of many sizes, or more flat with just one or two large growth spikes.
There’s more to these spikes than just some pretty charts. By using a social media analytics tool like Socialinsider, you can start doing some serious detective work and correlate these spikes with specific campaigns or top-performing posts in recent history.
Let’s take the example of letterboxd, a social film discovery app. Judging by their follower growth chart, they had a wave of new followers join their community on March 13th - the night of the Oscars 2023 ceremony.
Then, looking at their top 3 posts from the same time period (January 12 - April 11), we see that at least one of these best-performing posts is related to the Oscars, and most likely contributed to their Instagram follower count increase that happened on March 13.
In other words, follower growth numbers may not always give you much to work with, but spikes can. Spikes are a clear sign that something is going on. They might also help you pinpoint viral posts from your own brand’s history or from a competitor’s.
You can also correlate follower growth spikes with other metrics, such as reach, impressions or, as depicted in the chart below, engagement:
Third, but not least, learning how to calculate follower growth and how to track it comes in handy when you’re looking for the right influencer for your brand.
Influencer marketing is gaining a lot of traction nowadays, but the process of finding a suitable match for your brand is not getting any easier.
If a particular influencer has a high follower growth rate, that speaks to their ability to attract new people and grow their community constantly. A large audience means a higher reach, which is one of the goals you should aim for when collaborating with an influencer.
3. How to calculate follower growth on main social media channels
The first places you’re likely going to visit when it comes to follower growth are the native social media apps: Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and so on. The same formula for how to calculate followers growth on Facebook applies on Instagram and the rest of them.
Meta has a simple and straightforward approach to displaying follower growth, inside the Meta Business Suite. The audience data can be accessed by going to Insights on the left sidebar, then Overview. You can access the data without having to learn how to calculate Facebook follower growth.
Besides the charts, Meta shows the number of new followers for both Facebook and Instagram, and how that number compares to the old number of followers (increase or decrease rate).
If you don’t have a social media presence on Facebook and you just want to track your Instagram follower growth, the native app can provide some insights for you. You can see the current number of followers, the growth rate, as well as some additional data related to unfollowers.
Linkedin follows a similar recipe, by displaying the total number of followers and the growth rate.
You can also track your follower growth on TikTok, from the native app’s Creator Tools section. By navigating to the Analytics tab and selecting Followers, you can see the current total number of followers for your profile and the growth rate.
Twitter is not very generous with follower analytics. It includes a small update on new followers in its monthly summary, but that’s about it.
4. Tracking follower growth with Socialinsider
Each social media channel offers its own set of information, but if you want a holistic view of your brand's social media presence, you'll need the whole picture.
If you want to make your life easier and skip the endless headaches of Meta Business Suite, TikTok and the rest, you can track follower growth through a third-party analytics tool like Socialinsider.
Plus, you don’t have to learn by heart how to calculate follower growth on Instagram or any other app, since you already have a tool that does it for you.
On Socialinsider's unified dashboard you can find follower history over a specific time period, which makes it easy for you to identify trends and use the data to set a growth target.
You can also benchmark this data against your competitors and see how you stack up.
Learning how to calculate follower growth is one of the first and most basic ways of tracking community growth. Whether you do it via native apps or through a social media analytics tool, tracking your follower growth rate is a must-do task for any social media marketer.